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The Shiites

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312100247
ISBN-10: 0312100248
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From the Back Cover

Shiite Islam is one of the world's major religions, with millions of adherents throughout the Middle East and South Asia. David Pinaults 'The Shiites' describes what Shiism means to those who actually practice it and serves as both an excellent introduction to the subject and an original work of scholarship
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (August 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312100248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312100247
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,239,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jonathan Homrighausen on November 29, 2013
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I am usual skeptical when a professor assigns their own book for a course. I have heard too many stories of academic egotism, of professors who only teach their own viewpoint. But in this case, I was pleased. Pinault, my Islam professor this quarter, wrote this book two decades ago as both an introduction to Shi'a Islam and some of its folk rituals as he observed them in Hyderabad, India in the late '80s.

Shia Islam emerged within a few decades after the death of Muhammad. Originally the split concerned disputes over who should succeed the Prophet as the guide of the Ummah, the Islamic community. However, these disputes have given the Shiites a distinctive theological outlook and unique rituals that most Sunni Muslims would condemn as bizarre or even idolatrous.

Pinault focuses on the rituals of matam that take place during Muharram every year. Muharram is a time of remembrance for Shiiite Muslims, remembrance of the death of Husayn (Ali's son) at Karbala in 680. Husayn, they believe, was the rightful guide of the ummah after Ali's death, but Husayn was killed by the man Sunnis believe was the rightful caliph. Shi'a Muslims view this death as a martyrdom, and use Muharram as a time to reenact that martyrdom and demonstrate their devotion to both Husayn and the family of Muhammad in general.

I won't post photos of the rituals. To an outsider they are gruesome. Some are calm, such as women and older men chanting devotional songs while beating their chests in sorrow and simulation of martyrdom. The more extreme practices involve flailing oneself with razors or sharp metal attached to a chain. Blood flies everywhere.
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By Dav on December 26, 2010
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David Pinault is a fantastic professor, and this book was a thorough look at Shiite Islam. It was a pure privilege studying under Prof. Pinault, and I found this reference extremely helpful in understanding Shiism.
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